Hawaii retailers say shoplifters are a growing threat to their bottom lines

"This is something because it is endemic to our society at this point, and it needs to be addressed and it needs to have a deeper conversation."
Published: Jan. 6, 2023 at 5:20 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A spike in thefts is just the latest headache for many local retailers already struggling from inflation and the impacts of the pandemic.

James Gieschen, owner of Sugar Sugar Hawaii, said shoplifting is one of the top things eating into her bottom line.

Across all four of their locations, he said, between 30 to 40 items are stolen a week.

“It’s very depressing to me as a business owner because we started very happy, doing what we were doing until they started becoming such a thing,” said Gieschen.

Sugar Sugar Hawaii started out as a small boutique nearly four years ago selling jewelry and fashions.

The business grew as it grew more popular, eventually expanding to several Oahu malls. But over the last year, their stores have been hit with shoplifters almost daily, costing them thousands of dollars in revenue.

They’ve now posted photos both in-store and online of the shoplifters they’ve caught on their security cameras.

“Because it is endemic to our society at this point, and it needs to be addressed and it needs to have a deeper conversation,” said Gieschen.

Real Estate consultant Stephany Sofos said big-name stores are also hit hard by thieves.

“Target has lost over $90 million in 2022, based on shrinkage, people stealing,” said Sofos. “And that affected their bottom line, and they don’t have profits.” But not just because of a rise in shoplifting.

Sofos said stores are also dealing with minimum wage increases, supply chain issues and labor shortages.

The real estate consultant said department stores could soon shrink.

Macy’s is already doing so by closing their Windward Mall location. It’s part of a plan to have a mix of mall and off-mall locations across the nation.

Sofos leases commercial property and says over the last year it’s been challenging to get tenants.

“Because they’re totally focused on the cost,” said Sofos. “And also, the security issue of how they’re not going to get ripped off and how they’re going to build their business.”

Despite the uncertainty of retail, Sugar Sugar Hawaii doesn’t plan to change to an online boutique.

“I think we want to just solidify where we are and slow it down and then just enjoy what we’re doing,” said Gieschen.